Pierce Edens
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Pierce Edens

Marshall, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Marshall, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Duo Folk Americana




"Pierce Edens & The Dirty Work"

Perhaps it’s paradoxical to suggest that the best way to capture a rough and tumble, unvarnished musical performance is through use of high definition cameras, but that was exactly the approach taken on Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work‘s upcomingLIVE. “We got to make something like the live show that you can also take home when the lights go down,” says Edens. Two Asheville NC events in November – an advance screening and release party – celebrated the release of the new DVD and its companion audio CD. Recorded over two nights in front of an appreciative audience at The Lexington Avenue Brewery in Downtown Asheville, LIVE presents the rootsy Edens and his band at their best.

That best really is tough to pin down: Allmusic.com classifies Edens alternately as folk-rock and psychedelic/ garage. But his music can just easily – and accurately – be tagged with the singer/songwriter label; he’s a gritty troubadour who takes what he needs from each style, blending and bending it to suit the needs of his songs.
Raised on a steady diet of mountain music, Edens discovered punk in his teens; his original story-songs are a compelling synthesis of both styles. The mysterious and ominous strains of “Jailhouse” that kick off the show display all of Edens’ best qualities: raspy, hoary vocals coupled with muscular backing that has all the power of rock’n'roll while hewing mostly to the Americana side of the tracks. Stinging slide guitar leavens the acoustic underpinning of many of the tunes.
The careening, high-speed romp of “Pretty” is reminiscent of Elvis Presley‘s “Mystery Train” by way of Johnny Cash, imbued with the smoky barroom aesthetic of Tom Waits. Elsewhere, the searing bluesy ballad of “Good Man” shows the stylistic range of the group, with Matt Smith‘s extended lead guitar break featuring sheets of feedback that recall Neil Young at his most metallic.
A longtime fixture of the music scene, Edens has previously released two discs under his own name: 2004′s Four Songs EP and a full-length self-titled album in 2012. The latter was fan-financed via a Kickstarter program which raised 130% of the set goal within 45 days.
Concurrent with his solo work, Edens launched The Dirty Work, featuring Smith on electric guitar and pedal steel, Jesse James Hongisto on bass fiddle, drummer Dane Rand, and Jim Aaron on harmonica. The group has released a pair of studio albums, 2006′s Party Dress and Long Days Above Ground in 2009. For the performances that made up the LIVE CD and DVD, they were joined by saxophonist Jacob Rodriguez and Justin Ray on trumpet.

The LIVE set draws from all four previous releases, recasting some of Edens’ simpler arrangements in a full band style. The close-in, intimate ambience of The LAB’s stone-walled backroom music space, coupled with deft (and hi-def) multiple camera production gives the concert DVD the perfect balance of high-end and down-and-dirty. Pierce Edens says that recording allowed for a display of “the difference between a studio album and live music; this was a chance to get back into the stomping, sweaty grind that our live show can be…including that element of chaos that makes live music so special.” TheLIVE CD contains thirteen tracks from the Winter 2012 shows; the DVD adds special features and solo performances of Edens originals “Queen of Hearts” and “Train Tracks.”

Produced by local media production company Sound Lab Studios, the LIVE DVD will be released nationally on December 10. But a pair of events celebrating the release gave fans in WNC two chances to preview what’s in store. On Thursday November 21, the DVD got an advance screening at the Fine Arts Theater downtown. And the next night (Friday the 22nd) Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work performed a release party at The Isis Music Hall in West Asheville. - Mountain Xpress, No Depression & Musoscribe

"Pierce Edens & The Dirty Work-Live"

Somewhere up there in the hills of western North Carolina a lot of bodies are buried, and Pierce Edens is the man with the locations. There’s no evidence that a cop, D.A. or judge can bring forth, mind you, but he clearly knows something; you can hear it in his twisted, tortured vocal bray, part Tom Waits growl, part Van Morrison howl, a soulful-yet-serrated instrument that conveys far more than even its owner might intend. You remember how George W. Bush once remarked how he could see into another man just by looking at his eyes? The same applies to Edens and his voice.

Over the course of two dark, dank evenings in the back room of Asheville’s Lexington Avenue Brewery, Pierce Edens & the Dirty Work laid down this baker’s dozen songs—the shows were also filmed, so there’s a corresponding DVD release for Live—and in the process managed to reinvent the whole notion of what “mountain music” is all about. Edens’ tales are unremittingly rural, dirty and dusty like a half-forgotten dirt road to nowhere, swampy in places like an equally obscure cattail-clogged pond, fraught with losers trying for one desperate, potentially violent last shot at the gold but dotted with glimpses of goodness when the grace of God shines down on one of those losers and he tries to do the right thing. From dynamic opening track “Jailhouse,” a Steve Earle-like rocker that details a life perennially beset by trouble (“I never got in trouble on my own,” protests Edens, “[but] the Devil came a-campin’ on my doorstep…); through the gospel-inflected blooze of the elegantly disheveled “Good Man” (“I never’d gone down this road if I had known it would be so long”); to moody psychedelic epic “Ghost On the Radio,” a slow-burn noirish anthem featuring a guest horn section to give it a Band/Los Lobos vibe; this is one of those rare live albums that completely blows away any of its studio-sourced peers. You can practically taste the sweat hanging in the air, smell the booze coming off the breaths of the audience.

And I’ve seen him play live myself, so I’m not just flipping matchsticks in the air with all these comparisons and metaphors. Edens is the R.F.D. (Real effin’ Deal), and when he and his band have their collective back against the wall, there’s trouble in store. Best step aside and let ‘em pass if they come your way… - Blurt Magazine

"Pierce Edens from Marshall has received a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship for music in the category of songwriting."

Edens is one of 15 artists from across the state to receive the 2013–2014 North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award in the categories of songwriting, composing and writing.

Artists receive a fellowship to support creative development and the creation of new work. Recipients were selected by panels comprised of artists and arts professionals with expertise in each discipline.

The N.C. Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship program operates on a two-year rotating cycle by discipline. Choreographers and visual, craft, and film/video artists are eligible to apply for the November 1, 2013 deadline.

Edens was raised on local folk, old time, and country blues, but spent his teenage years surrounded by punk, grunge and angst. “It wasn’t until I began to learn to play the guitar and craft songs of my own that these two worlds fused their way into lyrics, and I discovered my voice in the middle of all this living,” he said. “Steeped in the craft I grew up on, I strive to give my songs a distinct home of their own in modern American music.”

Named one of Mountain Xpress’ ‘Best of WNC Alt/Country-Americana Artists’ from 2007–2012, Edens received a 2008 regional artist project grant funded by the N.C. Arts Council towards the completion of his 2009 release, Long Days Above Ground. It was subsequently named one of the Top 20 Regional Albums of the year by WNCW, Spindale.

Edens says he likes to “bang on old wooden boxes, break strings, and stomp and howl out songs” that tell his own story as well as stories he’s been handed down.
“Pierce Edens is mind-bogglingly eclectic,” wrote Bold Life’s Brent Fleury of Edens’ self-titled 2012 CD. “His voice may be the only ‘semi-constant’ between wonderfully diverse songs, but even that has shown an incredible step forward in depth, range and expressiveness…He has an excellent sense of what each song calls for, and attunes his voice accordingly.”

His website is www.pierceedens.com. - North Carolina Arts Council

"CD Reviews: Pierce Edens & The Dirty Work Live"

Combine the ache of Hank Williams Sr. with the fire of Hank III, hammer it together with Joe Strummer’s conviction, and send it a’flyin’ with Tom Waits’ gutter-gospel preacher delivery: now you have a little bit of an idea of what Pierce Edens sounds like when he’s burrowed into a song and, in his words, “raisin’ a ruckus.”

And it ain’t just Edens raisin’ that ruckus on this here new Live album, boys and girls. Right alongside him are his co-conspirators The Dirty Work: Matt Smith playing the dog snot out of electric guitar and pedal steel; Jesse James Hongisto thumping the upright bass; and Dane Rand hammering out the big-assed beat. Plus there are some “special friends” on hand – Justin Ray on trumpet and saxophonist Jacob Rodriguez, along with Jim Aaron blowing the harmonica sad and sweet.

Put the whole works together and you have one wild and woolly blend of music that’s rough-and-tumble and lovely and raw and smart and real as the Appalachian Mountains where Edens grew up – and there’s an hour and a quarter of it on Live, just waiting to spin your head around.

The core band on this 13-song set is Rand, Hongisto, Edens, and Smith – basically, drums, bass, Edens on acoustic guitar, and Smith with whatever stringed weapon he chooses. To describe the lineup in words might sound limiting: the sound itself is anything but.

When Edens and The Dirty Work crank on the hoodoo, they can get as swampy as a John Fogerty nightmare (“Jailhouse”, “Mischief”). Or they can get all rockabilly reckless at the drop of a hat, barrel-assing along with the pedal flat to the floorboards and slapping the doors in time to the beat (“Money”, “Pretty”). Sometimes they slow it down and pull off a few minutes of honkytonk heartbreak that would be right at home on an old Mother’s Best Flour Show radio broadcast (listen to “Trouble” and give me another beer, barkeep); and sometimes they let fly with the kind of oomph and drama that would make even the folks in a stadium’s cheap seats flinch (“Montana”, “Ghost On The Radio”, “Can’t Sleep”).

Hongisto works every square inch of his big ol’ doghouse bass, laying down everything from Adam’s apple-bobbing ‘billy thumps to quasi-jazzbo loop-de-loops to straight-out rock romps – combining with Rand to get all sorts of rhythmic sceneries out of the most basic of hardware. Meanwhile, Edens’ acoustic guitar fluctuates between adding to a given song’s chugging rhythm, supplying mood colorings of its own, or simply offering bent back and cupped hands to give Smith’s electric guitar or pedal steel a boost into the air. And what about Smith? That’s a serious picker right there, capable of everything from Link Wray raunch to Brian Setzer-ish twang to whale noises from Venus. He can play it nasty; he can play it wild – but he never overplays anything.

Aaron’s harmonica appearances are tasteful and never too much (dig “Creeping Vines” – now that’s some fine mouth harp, right there); and when Rodriguez and Ray lend their horns to the mix, they flesh out the music’s colors nicely (case in point: the lurch of “Black Shiny Shoes”).

On top of it all are Edens’ vocals: all growl and bark and full of life and pain and stories and dreams and memories. The Waits comparison is an easy one, but there’s much, much more to Pierce Edens than a throat full of gravel. That’s only one color of a big palette: he’s the guy alongside you at the bar; in the pew; on the bus headed to somewhere – as believable as the words of his songs.

Live is a sweat-soaked document of what these players are capable of doing live and without a net below them. It really is quite a show.


Brian Robbins raises a ruckus over at www.brian-robbins.com - Relix jambands.com

"Gravel voiced phoenix rises from Asheville"

Whilst Edens strangles words in a kind of a Tom Waits way, Matt Smith lays down a dirty fingernails wall of guitar rock music, a kind of rockabilly, greasy, dirty, gritty. That or a slowed down style, slow so that the words crawl out of Edens’ mouth like animals stiff from hibernation taking first steps in spring - here Smith uses the pedal steel to cloak the whole thing in something approaching beauty: they sound like a roadhouse band playing in a coffee house.

If Eden’s growled any lower he’s be fronting a death metal band, so it comes as a surprise and a pleasure when pretty tunes like ‘Creeping Vines’ are afforded respect: he sounds as if he’d hawked up before laying down the smoother vocal, and indeed the band are most effective on the slower numbers. Michael Oliver’s upright bass adds atmosphere to the crepuscular ‘Heaven’ where Edens sounds like Sean Ryder confessing his sins. They explore some interesting territory on the extended ‘Momma’ which approaches the zeal and intensity of 16 Horsepower with throat shredding vocals contrasted with eloquent pedal steel. Another extended song ‘Spirits’ has a more elegiac feel, one of those coming home anthems that stirs the blood. This is an intense and enjoyable experience.
- Americana-UK

"Asheville Live!"

...Pierce Edens, with his raspy soulful sound, his demeanor is one of a good ol country boy that has a powerful message of the ways of life lived by a man that has been through it all. His songs seem to be a reflection on that way of life that so many people can relate to, that’s why his songs hit a chord in the soul that resonates through his dominant meaningful lyrics. The conviction brought on by his stage presence that he conveys is one of those things that will bring a tear to your eye just from the sheer emotional rollercoaster his songs take you on. - Homegrown Music Network

"Pierce Edens and The Dirty Work Concert and DVD Screening 11/21/13 – 11/22/13"

Based in Asheville, NC, Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work have been mainstays in the SouthEastern roots music scene for several years, and now the band is back again with the release of Pierce Edens and The Dirty Work, LIVE, a live performance DVD and CD collection. It will release locally with a preview of the DVD at the Fine Arts Theater in downtown Asheville the night of Thursday, November 21, 2103. The band will perform a release party concert on Friday, November 22nd at the Isis Music Hall in West Asheville. Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work are intent on celebrating in full force; fans of the band can expect to see them at their best both on the big screen and in the flesh over the course of two hot ticketed evenings.

Singing, performing, and recording for several years, the songs of Pierce Edens resonate from a calling sparked within him to share a story. It’s a story inspired by old-time tunes, a rock and roll fever, and the downright rural, gritty mountain life of his upbringing. It doesn’t seem to matter whether he is singing a haunting, foothill-influenced ballad with a modern Americana twist, or writing a 21st century stomp-and-clap that calls back to the Appalachian churches, it all gets entangled in his unique storytelling.

“There are few who can touch Edens as a singer or as a songwriter,“ says Bold Life’s Robin Tolleson. “He’s blessed with a soulful, resonant growl that seems to mix Johnny Cash, Eddie Vedder and Citizen Cope.” It’s an eclectic mélange of sounds exemplifying the fact that this man can’t be contained by any one genre; he’s an American musical anomaly.

“Asheville’s Pierce Edens heard old-timey mountain music until his teens; that’s when he was steeped in punk and grunge. Both inform his music. His shadowy baritone has a dark, jazzy canter reminiscent of Tom Waits, while the percolating strings below it veer from bluegrass to closing-time cabaret,” says Indy Week. “The punk manifests in the rebellious free-spirited nature of ‘Montana’ as Edens demands, ‘Don’t speak, don’t think, just take my hand and come with. We can work out the details later, if we work them out at all.’”

Along with Pierce Edens’ lead vocals and acoustic guitar, The Dirty Work includes Matt Smith (pedal steel and electric guitar), Jesse James Hongisto (upright bass), Dane Rand (drums and percussion), and Jim Aaron (Harmonica). Special guest musicians on the DVD include Jacob Rodriguez (saxophone) and Justin Ray (trumpet).

In collaboration with Sound Lab Studios, the band recorded two nights at The Lexington Ave Brewery in Asheville in full Dolby digital surround sound in high definition on multiple cameras. Distilled now into both CD and DVD formats Pierce Edens and The Dirty Work, LIVE shows the band in their most raw, intense, and revelatory release to date and releases nationally on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

Sound Lab Studios is an Asheville-based media production company that is a partnership between More Chi Films and Golden Manatee Productions. The footage was directed and edited by Peter Lutz; produced by Adam Johnson & Pete Lutz, with audio recording & mixing by Adam Johnson and front of house sound by Sean Mack. Greg Herman for the album artwork and digital motion design. For more information about Sound Lab, please visit http://www.soundlabstudios.com.
More information about Pierce Edens and his tour dates can be found at www.pierceedens.com. - Ashevilleblog.com

"Pierce Edens- Self-Titled Album Review"

Pierce Edens’ musical education was an odd one. The Asheville, North Carolina native grew up listening almost exclusively to the folk and mountain music that dominated his local music scene – until, in his teenage years, he discovered punk and grunge. His own musical expression reflects those contradicting influences, and merges them in a way that sounds wholly natural. Of course, it’s not unknown for country-raised ex-punks to return their roots, and many of the original alt. country outfits, such as Uncle Tupelo, right through to later groups like Jim & Jennie and The Pinetops, were all comprised of musicians who had first cut their teeth in grunge and alternative bands.

Edens’ take on his chosen genre is still recognizably folk-based, but he brings a remarkable energy and urgency to his songs, which is nigh on impossible not to be swept up and away by. On stage he bangs on boxes, breaks strings and whelps and howls his way through his songs, and it’s to his credit that he’s managed to transfer so much of that vibrant intensity into a studio setting. Indeed, his latest self-titled collection almost bounces along.

On the opening track “Montana”, he sets out his stall. His blue-collar delivery and emphasis on telling it like it is, brings to mind Springsteen and relative newcomers like Gaslight Anthem, though he’s distinctly rootsier than both. Second track “Lonely” indicates a Tom Waits influence, circa “Swordfishtrombone” and “Raindogs”, though again, Edens stamps his own idiosyncratic take on the style, and on “Darlin” the mood is brilliantly interrupted by assorted strings, and some serious mountain-folk balladeering. It’s an outstanding track, as is the concluding “Mighty Mighty”, where Edens wails a chain gang blues, accompanied by juddering percussion and distorted guitar. - Leicester Bangs UK Music Review

"Pierce Edens Album Review"

Pierce Edens is back with his new self-titled album, and he's still doing what he does best — belting out his raw, energetic brand of music. Granted, there's a track or two where he takes a page from the more chilled-out Leonard Cohen, but that unique, gruff, animated voice hasn't gone anywhere. Neither has his penchant and superb ability to conjure fantastically wild compositions from either thin air or from a creative mind that just doesn't ever seem to want to rest. As with 2009's Long Days Above Ground, Pierce Edens is mind-bogglingly eclectic. His voice may be the only "semi-constant" between wonderfully diverse songs, but even that has shown an incredible step forward in depth, range and expressiveness. Not to take away from his previous work (as I very much enjoyed it), but Edens is a stronger singer now, obviously possessing a greater knowledge of the dynamics his seemingly untamable voice is capable of. He has an excellent sense of what each song calls for, and attunes his voice accordingly. It's as close to a perfect performance as I've heard since Axl Rose on Appetite for Destruction, although I'm well aware the genres are completely different. This latest album is a natural and impressive progression of Edens work to date, and I have no doubt he'll continue to both please and surprise his fans. - Bold Life

"Best Of WNC"

Voted Best of WNC 2007-2011 - Mountain Xpress

"Porch Time with Pierce Edens"

When Pierce Edens leads The Dirty Work onto the stage at the Westville Pub in Asheville, it feels like he's going home. "That's kind of where the band started happening. I worked there for awhile and they were amenable to me coming and playing tunes," he explains. Edens went from tending bar at the West Asheville haunt to leading an open mic night there.
One night drummer David Mack jumped onstage with a washboard to play with him. "I just sensed a kinship," Edens recalls. "It's David's energy, how much fun he's having playing music, and how well he plays it. He's got such a push, such a drive." At Mack's suggestion, bassist Michael Olivier was soon aboard, followed by slide guitarist Matt Smith. "There's nothing quite like a band to really get a room rocking," Edens beams.
In an area rich with singer/songwriters, there are few who can touch Edens as a singer or as a songwriter. He's blessed with a soulful, resonant growl that seems to mix Johnny Cash, Eddie Vedder and Citizen Cope. And his songs span the grunge-abilly of "Let It Rain" and "Drowning Man," the dark, down tempo tales of "Jailhouse" and "Blacktop," and the simple beauty of "Queen Of Hearts."
Edens was born in Madison County, and picked up guitar at an early age. "I started on it when I was a kid, took a couple lessons from a neighbor. I didn't get too far with it," he smiles. A few years later he began playing bass in a garage band with his brother and a friend. "I picked up singing because nobody else would. Got interested in the words that I was singing, so I started writing songs that way, and moved to the guitar pretty quick after that.
"I wouldn't say songwriting comes easy, but natural," he continues. "It's just one of the ways that I get it out. It started way back there — I got interested in poetry and writing words, and it's amazing how much you can get across with very, very little. Lyrics are kind of an entry point for a lot of people, because it's the most direct. We're accustomed to hearing words that people say all day, so to squander that would be a big mistake. If you pay attention to what you're saying, it makes it all that much easier to get into a song. Then everything else happens, and the music develops."
Edens was influenced heavily by country troubadour Billy Joe Shaver. "He just kicks ass — just the kind of songwriter who's really done it," he says. "Inevitably I get the Tom Waits comparison, and Tom's badass too. I love his sound." But when he started writing songs in the garage, Edens was listening to Seattle grunge bands like Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains. "That's what we were trying to sound like. Coming at it from being out in the woods like I was, that, plus the traditional folk music. I think that was what was fueling it," he explains. "We were trying to sound like these punk rock bands from across the country, and underneath all that I was going to festivals hearing banjo and mandolin and old time folk singers and really digging on that too. I ended up with a weird goulash of the two."
Edens attended Warren Wilson College, where he studied philosophy and the arts. "Philosophy's not something that's gonna put bread on the table. It's like jumping jacks for the brain, to get that muscle going. You've got more to chew on," he says. To keep himself balanced, he learned how to do stone masonry around campus for his work-study project.
"My songs are my story, in as much as I can tell it," he says. "Just the feelings that I get, things that strike me. You see somebody at the bar, and just the way they're sitting makes you think about something from your own story. Just writing all of that down, trying to come up with something that resonates. It always starts with something that resonates with me first, and then maybe I can think of something that will resonate with somebody else.
"With a song you're really trying to convey a feeling. The best way of doing that is being really honest with yourself, and honest with the feelings that you're having, whether you like them or not, and just reporting on that. Just to make you feel something, to shake something around in there. To have a good time and come away feeling like you can touch people, being closer to somebody."
Edens' first release was a 2005 self-produced solo EP titled Four Songs. "That's sort of a closet recording," he reports. "I had a porch and a house that had a computer in it. I'd decided that I wanted to bring the music out and play places, so I decided to lock myself in and record something.
"It was always a little serious, you know. I just wasn't sure if it was public or not. It took me awhile to get acclimated - Bold Life Magazine

"Long Days Above Ground Review"

Previously unfamiliar with Pierce Edens and not knowing what to expect, I got an opportunity to play the game where I try and guess the style of music from the cover art. Upon examination, I figured I was about to hear a stripped-down rock act or an over-produced country act. What I got was something quite different from either. A truly fascinating piece of work, Long Days Above Ground is a wonderful fusion of southern, workin’ man’s rock, classic country honky tonk, blues and rockabilly. But that just scratches the surface of what is an artistic effort of astounding depth. The first three tracks of Long Days Above Ground run the gamut from a banjo-driven tune in the style of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” to a Bachman Turner Overdrive meets Buddy Holly rug-duster, to a plodding, horn-backed number that would be right at home on a Tom Waits album. The following eight tracks don’t get any easier to lump into a neat little musical package. Led by Edens’ singular voice, each track seems to ooze experience and authenticity, as if each note was a mile walked in the hot sun or a lesson learned the hard way. Known for his gravelly growl, he somehow manages to simultaneously encapsulate the likes of Bruce Springsteen, George Thorogood and Elvis, and every so often a softer Willie Nelson-ish side will emerge — a curious and remarkable style to be sure. But Edens’ voice isn’t the only uncommon gem on this recording. Rarely does one feel the raw, musical connection between the players on a studio album (as opposed to a live album), regardless of their level of talent, but these musicians really “click” together. They play with soul and fire, and the music is felt rather than simply just heard. With their awesome chops and comfort in jumping the genre-barrier over and over again, they’ll have your body moving the same as if you were in the front row at one of their shows. One of the most intriguing albums I’ve heard in a while.
- Bold Life Magazine

"A Live Review of the Charleston Bluegrass Festival"

"Last Saturday afternoon at the Sewee Outpost, it took a band with more roots in rock than bluegrass to get folks on their feet, but once the crowd stood up for Asheville's Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work, they never returned to their seats.

Edens and his trio delivered one of the weekend's marquee performances, taking advantage of their prime 6 p.m. time slot as the singer/guitarist snarled his way through an upbeat set with his signature rumbling voice." - Charelston City Paper

"Junk Journal (valuable scraps from the local music scene)"

...First, a newcomer to the Asheville scene, Pierce Edens, sent along his Four Songs. EP, containing, well, four songs. Three of the four are live tracks from Warren Wilson's Sage Cafe and Westville Pub, while the last, and perhaps best, studio track, "jailhouse (devil don't work alone)., along with the live "pretty.," clearly indicate Edens' pleseant preoccupation with the naughtier side of life. With a stripped but well-tuned solo guitar attack, Edens holsters a noteworthy life-torn voice- slightly reminiscent of a more stoned and somber Tom Waits (if that makes any sense whatsoever)...

-Stuart Gaines - Mountain Xpress

"Dressing for the Party"

-by Jake Frankel

Despite what his singing voice suggests, Pierce Edens does not chew on
gravel, swallow sandpaper or have a small bass resonator lodged
somewhere deep inside his chest. For years, the local songwriter says
he tried to "sweeten up" his voice. Thankfully it resisted, because on
his debut full length album, Party Dress, his screams sound like the
wise product of a thousand years' worth of wars and loves gone wrong,
as if he just woke up from a life of hard drinking and is now ready to
tell his tale.

He told me some of that tale over beers and pizza on a recent night in
the West Asheville home he shares with his wife, Jane Edens, who sings
in The Barrel House Mamas. Over the years, Edens and his various
backing bands have teamed up with the Mamas for countless shows and
collaborations. The Mamas cover Edens' "Spirits" on their recently
released debut, gathering, and lend back up vocals to Party Dress.
Together, they have cultivated something of a roots and folk rock
revival in West Asheville, which has been enthusiastically supported
by the Westville Pub.

The place Edens refers to as simply "the Pub" or his "home" has a rich
history of not only showcasing, but employing some of Asheville's most
promising young musicians. Members of Menage got their start
bartending and playing there, and on any given night patrons might now
be served by any three of the four members of Agrolola. Edens used to
work behind the bar and now regularly hosts the venue's Monday open
mike nights. He releases Party Dress at the Pub on Saturday, December

Many of the road-tested tunes on the disk will be familiar to long
time Edens fans, but they've never been captured like this before.
With the help of producer Adam Johnson and his new band, the Dirty
Work, Edens transforms the solo acoustic blues of his 2004 EP, four
songs, into works of angsty rock 'n' roll.

Matt Smith's wailing lap and pedal steel lines define the new
instrumentation, breathing fire and soul into barn burners like "baby
doll" and "pretty," and weeping gently along with Edens' deep moans on
more reflective songs like "creeping vines." Many of the tracks would
be right at home on Americana and AAA radio. Edens credits his
bandmates for helping take his songs to "a whole new level."

"They have been right there with me on the clay every time, taking the
song further than I thought it was going to go or taking it in a
different direction than I thought it was going to go and making it
better," he says. "In general, every time I write a song I get excited
thinking, 'oh, I wonder what they're going to do with this.'"

The quartet came together at the urging of drummer David Mack, who in
addition to playing drums with Edens and the Barrel House Mamas, plays
bass with GFE. He introduced Edens to bassist Micheal Olivier and
Smith, who also plays in The Trainwrecks. Mack says that when he
introduced Edens to Smith, his old friend from their days growing up
in Charlottesville, VA, it was "like they got married. They just set
up in the living room and played for two weeks. Me and Michael didn't
even come to practice."

All of them except Smith were originally drawn to Asheville to attend
Warren Wilson College. For Edens, who graduated with a degree in
Philosophy in 2003, it wasn't such a long trip. He was born and raised
in Brush Creek, Madison County, were he grew up learning songs from
old-time legend Sheila Adams and sitting in on jams at Marshall's
Depot with well known bluegrass players like Josh Goforth. He sees the
songs he writes as a fusion of those experiences growing up in the
country with a later love for grunge.

"All growing up, most of the music I heard was live, in school, or at
church, or at community gatherings," says Edens. "And the kind of
music that it was was old time- ballads, hymns, old songs. I never
really thought about that, it was just there. I kept that kind of
music around, put it side by side with Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in
Chains. And that, I think is kind of where my music resides. All that
stuff shines through, and I think it's my job to attempt to not filter
any of it. I think that's what honest music is -- not thinking about
that, and just letting it be what it is."

He brought the band back home with him to make Party Dress, literally
staying at his folk's place and recording the album over the course of
a single whiskey fueled weekend last summer at Silvermine Studios just
down the road in Marshall.

"It was so much fun, great, probably one of the best times I've ever
had," reflects Edens. "We didn't map out our songs so much. We just
went in there and played, kicked it up. We caught what we do. That's
all we were ever after." - Mountain Xpress

"First the Big Room, then the Big Time"

Pierce Edens and The Dirty Work

...Pierce Edens is the guy hidden in the back of the room drinking straight black java and sneaking pulls from a flask. Along with his band, The Dirty Work, Edens raises the showcase’s musical stakes a frenetic mixture of roots-inspired rock. Presenting an image that is part carnival barker, part troubadour and part guitar-slinging vagrant, Edens’ music has a greater complexity than you might guess from a casual listen.

“I get comparisons to Tom Waits because my voice is rough,” says Edens. “But I wish people would tell me I sound like [legendary country singer] Billie Joe Shaver.”

Relating stories of hard living—and even harder learning—with uncommon ease and a gravel-chewing voice, it’s easy to compare Edens to the likes of Waits. But there’s a cool, uptown vibe to Edens’ songs as well. In fact, there’s even a little sentimentality to his work. But don’t get the idea that Edens and company are just a bunch of hard-luck softies—there’s some genuine grit in their songs and a fire in their performances.

“Expect us to keep our pants on for most of the show, at least,” he says laughing.

http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2007/111407localrock/ - Mountian Xpress

"Listening Party"

...Our next act is anything but somber. Gritty, visceral and about as subtle as a flamethrower duel at a gas station, Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work is handily one of the defining bands in the current Asheville music scene. It would be easy to view Edens and company as a band to scuff your boots to, but if you listen a bit more closely, it quickly becomes evident that Edens is also a truly gifted songwriter. Songs like “Holiday” and “Creeping Vines” actually border on the kind of rough-hewn brilliance that mainstream country could benefit from. That said, our suggested starting track is the dust-kicking, proudly crowing anthem “Let It Rain,” which you can listen to on the group’s MySpace page... - Mountain Xpress

"Record Reviews"

Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work sound like a fusion between Tom Waits and Louis Armstrong. The beginning of Party Dress evokes a rockabilly sound coupled with provocative lyrics, and then shifts to a more blues-inspired tone, making use of pedal steel, upright bass and slower melodies. Edens has the voice of a seasoned musician - a man with tales to tell and someone whose stories you would want to hear. In a world where it is hard to distinguish certain vocalists from one another, Edens' voice certainly cannot be said to blend in with the others. It is almost as if he is challenging you not to listen, but his vocal quality is capable of holding your attention while you listen to his woes, pleas and the like. At times it sounds as though his voice might just give way, like he is squeezing every last bit of strength out of it. In "Jailhouse," Edens sings of inviting the devil to coffee, saying that the devil has "always been a storm cloud on my shoulder" and that his guitar "might be the only thing that saves me." In this same song, he repeatedly mentions that he "ain't never got in trouble on his own." Tracks like "Momma" show the group's versatility, and by varying the speed between the songs, they assure that listeners don't grow tired of the somewhat scratchy, raw sound. Fans of Tom Waits or southern rock should definitely check out Party Dress. There is a gem in Asheville, North Carolina, and it's ready to be discovered. (Self-released)

http://www.performermag.com/sep.recordedreviews.0704.php - Performer Magazine (Southeast)

"Wildy's World"

Wildy’s World

Pierce Edens and The Dirty Work - Partydress
2006, Pierce Edens

Pierce Edens is either into creating low expectations or he’s absolutely hilarious (or maybe a little of both). Aside from that, along his band The Dirty Work, Piece Edens is one fantastic performer. On the debut album from Piece Edens and The Dirty Work, Partydress, we get a mix of folk, blues and rock that is intriguing.

Pierce Edens is a capable songwriter who is able to bring you most any style of music, but is truly at his best with down and dirty acoustic blues. Partydress opens with Baby Doll, a delicious blues rock tune. Holiday is a great singer-songwriter tune with a real melancholy bent. Things Are Looking Up is another tasty blues dish. One of the things that makes this music work is the energy that Pierce Edens & The Dirty Work invest in their music. Even on the weaker songs on this album Pierce Edens carries the songs on sheer force of personality and will.

Other highlights include the country Creeping Vines, Jailhouse, Momma and the frenetic rocker Let It Rain. Pierce Edens and The Dirty Work sure know how to liven up a concert hall. Their electric energy levels are infectious and you'll find yourself getting up to dance. Partydress is an outstanding disc with a number of songs that are great fits for radio or for licensing. Make some room for Piece Edens and The Dirty Work in your CD collection.
- Wildy

"Earful (Notes on local music)"

Show Review

Pierce Edens at Harvest Records...
Genre: Singer/Songwriter; bottleneck blues...
Be glad you stayed home if: You need more musical meat than a man and a guitar.
Defining Moment: "Hallelujah" --an origional blues drencher so good I swore it was an old classic.

I fear the singer/songwriter stereotype. When I hear the label, I think of a whiny eulogy for a lost cat or spilled coffee on a fresh cardigan. Luckily, Pierce Edens epitomizes neither. With a growling voice, aggresive harmonica, and a percusive guitar sound, Edens (backed by a drummer for the first set) has the presence to hold one's attention for more than the obligatory song. The music is still raw, the mistakes visible, but he is a performer with a lot of well-written originals, a monster picking hand, and a bucketful of intention... - Hunter Pope (Mountain Xpress)

"Talking new roots music: A sit down with Pierce Edens"

by: Jake Frankel

Local old-time blues singer/songwriter Pierce Edens’ perfectly gruff and gravely voice rises up from his gut, sounding like the sad, wise product of a thousand years worth of wars and loves gone wrong, as if he just woke up from a life of hard drinking and is now ready to tell his tale.
A regular in Asheville’s folk scene for several years now, I wnet by Pierce’s West Asheville home on a recent muggy night and sat down on the front porch with him to hear more of that tale, and while it wasn’t quite as dramatic as his voice suggests, (he is only twenty-something years old after all) it was plenty interesting.
He was born and raised in Brush Creek, Madison County, where he grew up learning songs from old-time legend Shelia Adams and sitting in on jams with the like of now-turned bluegrass star Josh Goforth.
But, not surprisingly, he shunned his country music roots as he got a little older, instead choosing to embrace the teenage angst-expressing power of distortion and grunge rock. A few years later, with a degree in Philosophy from Warren Wilson and some traveling under his belt, he says he was figuratively and musically “ready to go back to Madison County.”
Talking to Pierce while sipping on one of his flavorful, stout homebrews, I was particularly interested in that process of rebelling against, and then turning back toward, roots music.

AD: How did you get started playing music?
PE: It was always a push from my dad: “learn to play a musical instrument. I don’t care if you do anything with it.” So he signed me up for guitar lessons when I was eight or nine years old and get me this little bitty left handed guitar. I went mostly to listen to my guitar teacher play.
After a while he would let me start playing along with his group, an old-time band, but I never got really far with it until way later when I picked up the bass guitar instead and played grunge rock n’ roll in a band in middle school and high school.

AD: Is that when you started writing and singing?
PE: I started writing songs with the grunge band because I was the designated singer and no one else wanted to do it.

AD: It wasn’t something you really felt drawn to do? Like, “I want to be a singer and I’m going to sing,” or was it more like, “Well, I guess we’re in a band and we need a singer so I’m going to have to do it”?
PE; It was alright because with grunge rock you didn’t really have to hit any notes or anything, you just had to yell a lot. They figured I would be the best at that for some reason. I was the one writing the words because I was the one saying them. It was mostly about guitar solos anyway.
But that’s where I got my start on it, in middle school, writing angsty teenage poetry and putting on some distorted bass lines and it just kind of caught from there. And I got really into writing and less so into grunge rock n’roll. I stopped writing songs and started writing what I considered then to be poetry, as something to do more than anything else. You run out of things to do pretty quick, wherever you’re from.

AD: What you’re doing now has more of this simplified, blues-y feel, which is obviously different than pop music you hear on the radio. What draws you to that simple, rootsy sound?
PE: Origionaly, when I was really getting into writing songs and putting them to music, tweaking with the forms, I kind of headed towards folk music. I was still absorbing everything around me and I was still going to the Depot and everything, even during the grunge thing. But after we stopped playing music in the band, yelling and screaming and stomping around, the bass just didn’t hold up anymore, and I started playing the only guitar I had, this old cheap Stratocaster and I didn’t have an amp. I didn’t have anyway of hearing the damn thing.
I would go up against the windowpane and strum so I would hear it reverberating off the window. I did that for a while until I was like, “Oh, I’ll just play acoustic.” So I bought an acoustic guitar and got really into the tapping and and knocking on the actual wood, like it was a percussive thing. So I just kind of fell into this rootsy sound just by tapping on the thing and hitting the one note every now and then, focusing on the one note and making it the right one to hit at that point.
So, that spun me in the other direction, to really strip it down, take everything out of it and still have it be a song. All those old song forms, all you have to do was bang on something and belt it out. And that’s really what I was trying for, trying to get that on the guitar. That lends itself to old-time music, that lends itself to blues music, to old folk music. What people were doing when they got off work.

AD: How much of the music you are drawn to, consciously or not, stems from growing up in Madison County and going to those old time jam sessions at the Depot? I’m interested in how growing up out there in the deep country affected - Asheville Discliamer


Still working on that hot first release.



Life is the intersection of empty and full, dark and light. This relationship, inherent in all things, is the underpinning of Pierce Edens’ new release, Stripped Down Gussied Up dropping June 2nd.  Over the last ten years, Edens has been drawing on his roots in Appalachian songwriting and blending them with the gritty rock and roll sounds that captivated him in his teenage years. Here again, Edens pulls together light and dark— Stripped Down Gussied Up is both haunting and fiery; a concoction of psychedelic-grunge, with Eden’s raw, tortured country bray at the helm.

His fifth fully independent album, Edens has taken his singular voice back home to Western North Carolina. Edens recorded Stripped Down Gussied Up in his childhood home, which he stripped and renovated into a studio a few years back. Even the environment, thus, is an incarnation of the album’s crux. Edens said, “Recording often feels paradoxical; like taking a song and distilling it down, then building it back up from the bare bones.  It's like pulling your skin off your back and then putting a nice shirt on, maybe a coat too. This is me doing that. Stripping down, gussying up.”

Stripped Down Gussied Up delivers a new evolution on Edens’ sound; both intimate as it is atmospheric, glittery as it is gritty. Edens plays alongside his longtime band-mate Kevin Reese on lead guitar, mandolin, and occasional banjo for a handful of songs.  With the abandonment of his long-time backing band, we see new elements emerge for the duo, moving beyond the bombastic blues-rock stylings of his earlier work, towards more tender, acoustic arrangements, juxtaposed against Southern gothic storytelling. “The Bonfire” is the perfect example of this chemistry—Eden’s take on the murder ballads he grew up with. “All that dark old songwriting really appealed to me,” Edens said, “They would explore really complex human things from the worst parts of people. All that ugly stuff makes for great storytelling to boot. So, I thought I'd try my hand at it, since it was a stretch for me (since most of my stuff ain't fictional or narrative like that), but it felt like pointing home.” He brings this same gruff sensitivity to his raucous cover of Tom Waits’ “Mr. Seigel,” and his more vulnerable, introspective track “Sirens.”

Edens’ Appalachian roots are the glue of Stripped Down Gussied Up, an album that teeters between sonic extremes, between Edens’ present and sepia past. The result is a swirling tapestry of story and sound that swathes the listener then chills them to the bone.

Band Members